Friday, July 19, 2019

What I did on my summer vacation: The Jane Austen Summer Program

Remember when I asked if anyone wanted to share their fun summer adventures with us?  WHSLA member Kathy Koch heeded the call and wrote this for us:*

Ever wonder what it’s like at a gathering of Jane Austen fans? I found out in June when I attended the Jane Austen Summer Program, a small, four-day symposium hosted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The program brings together scholars, graduate students, and fans from around the country. This year’s theme was “Pride and Prejudice and its Afterlives,” and it celebrated the book and its many film, TV, book, and game adaptations. Presentations touched on topics ranging from entailment to the militia and from zombies to Brazilian telenovelas.

If you are a great reader, you would have been delighted with the wonderful rare book exhibit at the Wilson Library at UNC-CH, which featured a first edition Pride and Prejudice along with books about Austen or the time in which she lived. We had three amazing keynote speakers who discussed their recently published adaptations: Soniah Kamal’s Unmarriageable (set in 2000s Pakistan), Sonali Dev’s Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors (San Francisco’s Indian-American community) and Uzma Jalaluddin’s Ayesha at Last (Toronto’s Muslim community).  

Do you long for a ball? The highlight of the conference was the regency ball complete with (mostly) era-appropriate costumes, live musicians, and English country dances that we practiced over the previous three days. Even though there were too many ladies and not enough gentleman, no one was in want of a partner since the ladies also danced the gentlemen’s part. I will confess that on more than one occasion I momentarily forgot which part I was dancing.

I was excessively diverted by the symposium, and I’m planning to attend again next year! But I hope to have my very own Regency-era dress to wear instead of renting one. 

How dare he call her an "obstinate headstrong girl?!"
Costumed guests gather on the patio outside the ball

That's a first edition!!!

*Did she feel like she owed me a favor for all those oddly-shaped historical documents she sent me to scan for our digital repository?  Maybe.  Thanks for sharing your literary adventure, Kathy!

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